Friday, September 2, 2011

How Well Do You Know Your Neighbors?

How Well Do You Know Your Neighbors?

If you grew up in the kind of neighborhood I did, then you remember people sitting out on their front porches in the evenings, kids playing out in the neighbors yard until it was too dark to see and the mad rush to the ice cream truck when that little jingle was first heard on the street.

Nowadays, that scene is almost non-existent. Many parents are working late, then have to pick up the kids from their day care provider and rush home to make dinner, spend a little quality time with the kids and then off to bed to start all over again. Parents are worried that the streets aren't safe. People drive everywhere, and the most you see someone is when you are both getting into your car at the same time.

There are many benefits to having a close relationship with your neighbors. Research shows that neighborhoods where people know each other by name and are connected to one another have lower crime rates. It has even been shown that kids who live in tight knit communities do better in school.

Maybe it is time for us to bring back the days of yesterday, and get to know our neighbors. One way you can do this is by making a neighborhood directory. Send a letter (or even better, deliver it in person) asking your neighbors if they would like to be included in a neighborhood directory. A sample letter can be found here. Have them complete a form that provides you with information to put in the directory. A sample form can be found here. Once you have collected the completed forms, print a directory and distribute it to your neighbors. You can also email the directory to them to save on paper costs.

Another idea is to start a website for your neighborhood. You can get a free website from Geocities (http://www.geocities.com) or Neighborhood Link (http://www.neighborhoodlink.com). You can put a calendar of events in your area on the site, or perhaps list the email addresses of the residents. A bulletin board can be used to post announcements or special needs.

What about an old-fashioned potluck dinner or backyard barbecue. Invite your neighbors and ask them to bring a covered dish or dessert to share! What a wonderful way to get to know the people in your neighborhood. You might enjoy it so much that you turn it into a monthly event!

In this day and age, it is even more critical that we know those who live around us. Our very safety might depend on it. But there is also so much joy to be found right in your backyard! A host of new friends (and babysitters!) can be found just a stone's throw away from your front door. And perhaps, all of your neighbors are just sitting there waiting for you to make it all happen!

Originally posted on CharlotteMommies.com

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